Susan and Claude Oleson: Legacy Builders
Susan and Claude Oleson were invited to attend First Church by John & Liz Stevens. (Susan and Liz are both Speech Pathologists and are friends). At the welcoming luncheon after they were received as new members of the congregation (this was on April 4, 1982), Susan mentioned that Claude had seen in Steeple Notes that morning that they were looking for men to play slow pitch softball. And before that luncheon was over, Claude was a member of a church softball team! Thus began Claude and Susan's history of very active church membership!
Susan has served as a teacher in the Toddler Room, Bill Ritter's 3001 by 2001 committee, Ghana Mission Trip participate, Ghana Shanty leader (raising money for Ghanian women entrepreneurs, AIDS relief, and education for Ghanian orphans) and currently runs the Fair-Trade ministry (Claude is her assistant!). She has also been a leader with Church & Society ministries. Along with Claude, Susan has served as a lay delegate to Annual Conference.
Claude, an architect, served three terms on the Board of Trustees (President in 1996), two terms on the Endowment Fund Board, UMU liaison to the Ad Board, the sole male representative on COSROW, and as a member of the Worship Committee. He was a member of the First and Second Floor Classroom Renovation (Lang Village), the Building Committee for the CLC, had a large part in the Sanctuary Renovation and was the church's representative (along with Zeno Windley) for construction of the South Wing Renovation. As a result, Zeno and Claude were recipients of the 2012 Volunteers of the Year award. Claude's professional expertise has been a gift to our congregation whenever the church has contemplated or undertaken construction.
After Bill Ritter retired as Senior Pastor, and became the Executive Director of the United Methodist Union, he invited Claude to lunch. At lunch Dr. Ritter invited Claude to become a board member. "We need someone who can read building plans". This led to Claude serving for 5 years as Vice President and 4 years as President of the Union. Claude continues to serve the United Methodist Union as a Life-Long Trustee.
Through Claude's service as a trustee and endowment board member, Claude and Susan became very aware of the need for an endowment. Claude was the Trustee President when our Endowment was officially chartered with a gift of $175,000 in February of 1996.
During Claude's architectural career, he saw the deleterious effects of deferred maintenance on buildings. Claude's service with the Union provided more evidence to him of how critical it is to provide funding for building needs. In addition to named funds with specific purposes, endowed funds supporting continuing education; missions & outreach; worship & music; scholarships; children & youth; and buildings & grounds are available as options to those committed to leaving legacy gifts. Because of Claude's experience both in the church and beyond, Susan and Claude's legacy gift (a tithe) is directed to our building and grounds endowment.
Why have Susan and Claude made provision for a legacy gift in their estate plan? In their words:
"We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us. Look around at our beautiful facility, look around and see the ministry within and beyond our walls. Locally, nationally and around the world we make God's love real. What better way to support such an endeavor."